Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali

We have been traveling on our road trip with our SUV, since last Monday, from Goa to Himachal Pradesh, and crossed on our way 5 states in India and drove a total of 2000 kilometers!

It’s summer in India and we had at some point 47 Celsius while we traveled through the hottest regions in India.

But it was all worth it because now I am sitting in Old Manali at comfortable 20 Celsius, while I am overlooking the snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas.

The trip from Goa to Himachal by car might have been long but I had planned everything ahead to make it a comfortable trip.

Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

The trick is organization, foresight, and knowledge and you can do such a road trip as well if you want!

We had a ball of a time and enjoyed every bit of our travel, although it was scorching hot.

Of course, we will be traveling further in the next weeks, deeper into the mountains, which I will explain in the next few days when I get more time to write.

Western Ghats - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

✅ Route Planning Guide and Checklist

First of all, before you start your adventure travel road trip from Goa to Himachal, through the Indian subcontinent, make sure to go through the checklist below. Essentials to get…

If you have never driven in India, take a look at our useful tips to drive in India post.

A reliable travel partner

Whom you trust and with whom you can share the road trip experience. Traveling alone by car over 2000 km in India, especially as a non-Indian, is not recommended and it’s anyway more fun to share the road trip with somebody else.

I am doing the road trip right now with my husband and 4 eyes and ears can reach further than just a pair.

A good car with valid papers and new quality tires

We are traveling with an SUV which is way more comfortable than for example a Suzuki Swift.

We had done our South India road trip with the latter and it was at times uncomfortable when traveling for more than 3 hours and on rocky roads.

Also, an SUV is great for mountain passes and curvy roads, yet a smaller car can be beneficial for tight roads in the mountains (such as in new and old Manali).

Make sure to take a valid car license with you, car, and insurance papers because cops will stop you at some point and ask you for these things.

Check the health of your car such as, car oil, wheel alignment, and balancing before taking off on your journey, and take-along tools and gadgets for emergency situations, and check your tire pressure daily.

Medicines and updated First Aid Kit

It’s not a secrete that one can get sick in India. Sometimes it just happens because your body is not used to the food or temperatures outside.

Sometimes it’s just food poisoning or malicious people trying to scam you in some way.

You need to take along medicines to stop vomiting, to stop diarrhea, pain relief such as Paracetamol, tablets to stop inflammation, and medicine to reduce cramps.

Also make sure to take along anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic creams, and a cream to treat insect bites and stings.

I always keep with me a few packets of electrolytes, which re-hydrate your body with essential minerals when you have been feeling unwell. Just pour into clean water, mix and drink.

Other things to take are bandages, tapes, safety needles, small scissors, thermometers, antiseptic liquid, hydrogen peroxide. Check our Travel First Aid Kit Guide.

Documents

Documents such as Passport and Visa for foreigners and for Indians Aadhar Card and/or Driver license/voting Card.

Make 2 copies of each and keep them with you just in case.

Hotels in India have bad habits of copying your documents at check-in.

Make sure to sign and write the purpose of the documents on the copy, so that it can’t be used for something else without your consent.

Currency

A lot of Change/smaller Rupee Notes and a Debit Card and a Credit Card (in case of emergencies).

Keep the change in the car so that you can get to it quickly when you pass a toll booth.

A lot of places accept Debit/ Credit cards these days due to the Demonetization back in November 2016, even smaller roadside places.

We had some issues in Aurangabad as we were traveling because of the recent Ransomware attack, which affected ATMs, so we ended up paying everything via debit card, even at the petrol pumps (HP petrol pumps usually accept debit cards).

Navigation system device GPRS - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

Navigation System and Maps

It’s almost impossible to find your way without a GPRS system or without google maps.

Not all roads in all states are well described with big boards and many roads have been built recently and lack descriptions.

Also, most of the boards are written in another script and language, which you might not understand.

These days you can even use google maps to a certain extent without the internet, it just won’t show you live traffic updates and places nearby but the blue position dot and map will show, even if you zoom in.

We use a GPRS system, google maps, and a hard copy India map at the same time to get the most accurate results.

Sometimes in the mountains, both, the Navigation device and Google maps, were giving us wrong road results. At that point, we just ask locals (lady police officers are usually most accurate).

Indian Sim Card

Your unlocked mobile with an Indian Sim Card because you can always need a phone and another internet source. Although 4G/3G/2G don’t always work everywhere yet if that doesn’t work you can also take along a JIO portable modem with a JIO Sim card to have another internet source (just in case the hotel wifi doesn’t work out). At some point in our travel, we had 3 internet connections and non was working and we were not able to connect manually to a mobile network, that can happen too!

Water

Water bottles – if you have a lot of space keep a few bottles in your car. It will come in handy in some desolated places along the way.

Tools & More

a small pocket knife or a simple cutting knife and a lighter.

Other things which you might want to get along are a cigarette lighter adapter for USB pins to charge your phone and other devices along the way, toilette paper rolls, emergency light and candles, a bigger door lock for those simpler places up in the mountains, good footwear, appropriate clothes and bags.

Our Packet car ready for the roadtrip through India - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

🛏️ Accomodations

Before you travel from Goa to Himachal you can make sure to book the first hotel “pit stop” online.  

We traveled the first day for over 12 hours, whereas my husband is the only driver (the roads are tricky), from Goa to Aurangabad.

We traveled in summer so the hotels are pretty empty along the way and way cheaper than in the main season.

You can get 3-star hotels for 1000 INR (~15 USD/ ~14 EUR) on average.

You can just drive to a town and look for hotels there but I wouldn’t recommend that when traveling from Goa to Himachal India, because you tend to get bad offers because they can see that you are tired, so one will always settle with lesser rooms.

If you intend to stay longer than 2 days in one place, you can just take a walk in the place and ask for the room rates, that’s how you can get cheap but great rooms in traveler joints such as Old Manali, Old Kassol, McLeodGanj in Dharamshala, Laxmanjula in Rishikesh, Pushkar and Anjuna in Goa.

view from our homestay in shimla - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com
Near Shimla, Himalayas

Otherwise while traveling in other places in India you need to get certain room booking apps such as Oyo and Makemytrip to find the right hotel rooms that suit your needs.

I mostly booked on MMT because they offered me better rates along the way and I was able to check out reviews from other travelers, which I think can be useful and they give something called an MMT assurance or your money back.

You can also use Google maps and TripAdvisor for room suggestions.

Most hotels are welcoming, no matter who you are and where you come from.

Sometimes I have seen strange but silent reactions at check-ins but usually, there is no problem, especially when you pay quickly.

Only if you are a couple make sure to pick hotels that are ok with that.

Oyo for example is listening to lots of hotels that don’t allow couples.

I even saw one hotel listed which allowed only Indian guests.

Read through the description and in doubt call the hotel.

Our Hotel in Aurangabad told me while check-in in that they don’t allow couples, which infuriated me because nothing of the like was mentioned on their website or on MMT.

In fact, some reviews mentioned that they had stayed there with their family.

I understood then only, that they assumed that we, were unmarried (!!!).

Unfortunately, it got so far that I had to show my marriage certificate to get my room, which I had booked and paid online a week before.

These types of situations arise too frequently in India.

I mean you get bloody married and they still bother you with embarrassing questions. My wife didn’t feel comfortable!

Our friend Christine talks about this in a post-> 3 Questions That Solo Female Travelers Are Tired Of Hearing

passing by North Maharashtra in summer - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

📜 Itinerary

  • 1st Stop Aurangabad (Maharashtra region) – We stayed there 3 nights as we visited the ancient Buddhist caves of Ajanta and Ellora.
  • 2nd stop Dhar (Madya Pradesh region) – Only one night but on the way we stopped at Mandu and visited in the afternoon the ancient Afghani fort and Hoshang Shah’s Tomb.
  • 3rd stop Ajmer (Rajasthan region) – 1 night
  • 4th stop Panipat (Haryana region) – 1 night
  • 5th stop Shimla (Himachal Pradesh region) – 1 night
  • last stop Old Manali (Himachal Pradesh region) – a few days

We could have stayed longer in Rajasthan too and picked Jaipur or Ajmer as a stop, so to visit historical sites there, but the summer heat temperatures are 45 Celsius on average and in a busy massive city like Jaipur it’s just a bad idea.

If you travel during wintertime in India, then you might want to consider doing these cultural stops.

Ellora Caves near Aurangabad - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

💡 Tips

For your Goa to Himachal road trip, try to pick the Rajasthan highway instead of the Madya Pradesh Highway from Indore to Agra (AH 47/43), as it will take 2 hours longer to travel by car.

Use the AH 47/43 only if you want to make a stop in Agra to visit the Taj Mahal.

For Food along your road trip from Goa to Himachal stop in places that look neat from outside and where you can see cars parked.

Don’t stop in dhabas (food places) for truckers, these places are not meant for car drivers, and safety is not guaranteed.

You can stop in government restaurants/hotels, those are common on the highways and it’s usually mentioned on the signboards.

Got a refreshing Lemon Soda to beat the 47 Celsius heat outside in Madya Pradesh Development Corporation highway restaurant - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

Petrol Pumps are plenty along the way.

There is Bharat Petroleum, Indian Oil, Reliance, and HP Petrol Pumps.

The rates for Petrol and Diesel are different from state to state and are somewhere between 55 RS and 75 RS per Liter.

Also, check and refill the air in your tire.

We had a nail in one of our tubeless tires, which these people removed and fixed quickly.

To go to the toilet on your road trip from Goa to Himachal, stop at petrol pumps and ask for the bathrooms.

Bathrooms in Petrol pumps are free, normally there is no problem in this regard.

The more north you drive the better the bathrooms get.

ROAD TRIP STORIES -> KARAKORAM HIGHWAY – A JOURNEY FROM PAKISTAN TO CHINA

one of the countless petrol pumps on the way - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

👮 Police Stops

Be AWARE of COPS in HARYANA and especially PUNJAB/CHANDIGARH area!

Don’t over speed in Haryana!

The cops are everywhere on the highway and they will stop you and ask for 1400 INR (although that’s not the legal rate!) or they will threaten you by cutting off your license (they are not allowed to do that!) and then they will ask for 500 INR instead without giving a legal receipt!

THE COPS HAVE TO GIVE YOU A LEGAL RECEIPT, IT IS YOUR RIGHT!

The legal rate for over-speeding should be 400 INR in Haryana.

After a few kilometers, another road block and another cop will stop you and charge you the same again for no good reason and that’s when you show your receipt.

The receipt gives you a clearance and they let you go.

Punjab/Chandigarh area is notorious for the police with turbans and their harassment.

NEVER EVER PAY HAFTA!

Never pay a lesser rate which the corrupt cops will take into their pockets because then you won’t get your legal receipt and they will stop you again another 6 times and harass you.

PAY THE LEGAL RATE FOR WHATEVER RIDICULOUS REASON THEY STOP YOU!

Haryana Police stopped us for over speeding - Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali - Travel Route planning Guide Checklist for Adventure trip to Himalayas India www.MasalaHerb.com

Dear reader, have you traveled through India before and if yes what was your experience?

 

12 thoughts on “Road Trip Goa to Himachal, Manali”

  1. I have traveled from Delhi to Jaipur and I wouldnt do it again, so I give you a lot of credit for driving around for so long. Sounds like a great adventure. Your tips are very useful as well. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Wow what an amazing trip you have done and still have ahead. Can’t wait for more pictures and read all about your adventures!

    Reply
  3. Sounds like a very exciting adventure, and such a great guide for those who want to venture in India. It is very comprehensive and you cover all aspects. I am sharing this article on my Place to go board. Thank you

    Reply
  4. I went to India last November, when the temperature was slightly milder. It must’ve been challenging to road trip in that heat!

    Reply
    • Kacie, once you are in the mountains it gets cool and at times quite cold. The higher the colder it gets. At some point, we had 0 Celcius at around 4600m altitudes.

      Reply
  5. What a great road trip. Most of my road trips were in the US. I will keep your itinerary in mind during my visit to India next year.

    Reply
    • Well, I am planning more posts soon about north India, so maybe some of the destinations I am planning to write about will be something for you.

      Reply
  6. Wow, you covered a lot of ground!!! Great to see some practical tips for those who aren’t so experienced in this kind of road trip, as it’s so easy to get in trouble because of lack of preparation!

    Reply
  7. Wow, this is a seriously intense roadtrip to some really off the beaten track destinations. It sounds pretty scary at times so it’s a good job you were so organised ahead of time!

    Reply
    • Hi Agnes,
      Thank you! 🙂 When I wrote this post we were in Manali, so by the time we traveled further to Kinnaur, Spiti Lahaul, back to Manali, and further to Dharamshala before driving back to Goa, we ended up with about 30 days of road tripping and about 6000kms. 🙂 It’s fun but you have gotta be well prepared to take in India and its special situations.

      Reply

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